A group of students and faculty from RISD and Brown University gathered at the RISD Museum on November 30 to pressure the museum to return stolen bronzes from the Kingdom of Benin and to decolonize the collection.
In response to the protest, the RISD Museum told Hyperallergic:
“The RISD Museum recognizes the looted status of the Head of a King (Oba) made by Benin royal artists in West Africa which was given to the collection in 1939. British forces sacked the Benin kingdom in 1897 in a campaign known as the Benin Punitive Expedition. Cities were burned; the reigning king, Oba Ovonranwmen, was forced into exile; and works of art and other treasures were looted. Soon after, museums and individuals throughout Europe and the United States were collecting Benin bronzes. We have initiated a process of communication with Oba Ewuare II and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria which has been established to address this very issue. We see this as an opportunity to confront the histories of colonialism that exist within museum collections.” (Hyperallergic)